Raising Black Boys to Men

A Mother's Guide to Raising Thugless Sons

Archive for the category “Responsibility”

Why Black Parents Should Teach Kids to Love Self!

Not too long ago, I wrote a post: “When Will Black Lives Matter to Other Black People?,” in response to the killing of Tavin Rivers, 19, who lost his life over a pair of red, Chuck Taylor sneakers. His grieving mother, asked the very same question, as she languished over his lifeless body.

Weekly, I’m increasingly reading articles in which this very valid question is asked. As horrible as it is for the killing of Black men by police officers, it’s even more heartbreaking for Black men to continually kill each other, in senseless crimes.

In a recent Washington Post article, D.C. Council member LaRuby May (D-Ward 8) asked a similar profound question:”How do you make black lives matter to black people who have come to believe that they — and those who look like them — don’t matter?” In other words, how do you teach Black people to love self.

Just asking this type of question shows the complexity of the problems that exist in some Black communities — problems that stem from a deeply-rooted existence of self-hatred. Yep, I said it; now, let’s deal with it!

A love of self should be taught at an early age. This is a family value that is the responsibility of every Black parent, and impacts how children grow, learn, and interact with others in the world.

We’re witnessing a generation raised on reality TV and a pop culture far removed from a social climate that sparked lyrics such as James Brown’s “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m proud, and Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler).”

Expecting a person to value the life of others, when they have no love for self, is like expecting a baby to run, when they haven’t learned to walk — it ain’t gonna happen without proper knowledge.

When Will Black Lives Matter to Other Black People?

When Jennifer Rivers, mother of slain victim Tavin, 19, lost her son over a pair of red, Chuck Taylor sneakers no one protested. Her son was just another victim of black-on-black crime.

In a recent LA Times article titled: “A mother asks why some black lives don’t matter to other blacks,” this question is asked by the grieving Rivers, who can’t understand why black lives have little value to other blacks. A question that any grieving mother would ask after losing a child to such a senseless crime.

Where is the public outcry, the protests, and condemnation, in support of the innocent lives lost daily in cities all across America? Don’t their lives matter too? Let’s be real: black-on-black crime is a serious issue we also need to address on a mass scale. Sure, we can argue that eliminating police brutality has greater priority, but we can’t ignore the statistics that homicide is the leading cause of death among young, black males, at the hands of another black male.

 

Why are Black Fathers So Misunderstood?

The important lessons in this video for all fathers:

  • Be present
  • Accept your role and responsibility
  • Fathers make mistakes
  • Be part of your child’s life
  • Be an example

Knowledge of Self is the Beginning of Knowledge!

I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against. — Malcolm X

A friend of mine recently asked me what I thought of the petition to eradicate the word “thug?” I knew that she was referring to the Baltimore Mayor and President Obama referring to the protestors as thugs, but I decided to play devil’s advocate and ask: “Why is that now a bad term when our youth have embraced thuglife since Tupac first introduced that word?”

Since its origin, the word thug has referred to a criminal, mobster, gangster, badboy, or anyone involved in criminal activity, or roughneck behavior. The action or actions define the individual. For instance, any woman can have a child, but the actions of that woman define her as a mother, as in the case of Toya Graham.

From the moment Tupac introduced ‘thuglife,’ the music industry and Black culture have embraced the label ‘thug’ as a street cred, or badge of honor. We watched as gangsta rap artists profited from the glorification of thuglife, while Black youth seemingly destined to live life on the frays of society, called each other the N-word or thug, as a term of endearment. During this time, we were silent.

Now, Blacks are at a crossroad asking: “Where do we go from here?” As the debate continues about the use of the word thug, the real question is: “How do Blacks want to define and represent themselves to the rest of the world?” The answer to that question begins with knowledge of self!

The world is watching!

 

Momma Don’t Play That!

Toya Graham, the mom who was videotaped slapping her son, during the recent Baltimore riot wasn’t having it. Since her son didn’t have enough sense to make the right decision, she made the decision for him: take your behind home!

I applaud Toya for not allowing her son to get caught up in the disturbance, which could have resulted in his arrest; changing his life forever! Way to go Toya!

If more parents took the responsibility for raising their children, then we wouldn’t have to continue asking the question: What’s wrong with Black youth? And, you didn’t hear that from me!

Nothing In = Nothing Out!

In order for Black boys to grow into responsible, young men, they must have the necessary knowledge and guidance, which helps in their development.

Children aren’t raised in a vacuum — they must be taught values (respect, honesty, integrity, acceptance of others, etc.) and principles that help them to make the best decisions, as they grow into young adults. If we leave their development to chance, hoping that they’ll just turn out okay, then we shouldn’t expect much.

Raising sons demands direct involvement from parents, particularly mothers; since she is the first teacher. She builds the foundation upon which her son will stand and grow into a young, Black man. If she teaches him nothing, then it’s only a matter of time before we see what he’s been taught. And, by that time it may just be too late!

Do the Right Thing!

Before my sons left the house, I would remind them that they had only four words to remember: “Do the right thing!” If they failed to do the right thing, then they might have to suffer the consequences for their actions. I often feared that my sons would become another statistic, with only a future of jail or homicide.

To instill a sense of responsibility in my sons, I advised them to apply the “do the right thing” principle to every aspect of their lives — especially, in how they treated others.

The application of this principle is quite simple: let your conscience be your guide!”

Raising a Black Boy in America? Not Easy!

Congratulations, it’s a boy! Those were the words spoken by the midwife, after having my first son. Man, was I happy! But, on the inside my emotions were shaking like jello. But, despite my insecurities I was ready to take on the world, to ensure my son would grow up happy, and protected from a society that glorifies thuglife.

At that moment, I thought “Heck! I can do this; my momma raised a strong, fearless, black woman.” Then, suddenly I realized that I would be fighting against negative forces in society waiting to devour my son like a sacrificial lamb. Damn! Raising a Black boy in America; this wasn’t going to be an easy job.

Raising a Boy to a Man? Start Early!

When I had my first son, I was still a new mom. This was my first boy and I wasn’t quite sure what I was supposed to do, in raising him. But, one thing I knew for sure was that I was raising a boy to a man!

Despite my own insecurities, I knew I had to raise my son to one day become a responsible, man. And, there was no way to raise him properly, without starting the development process early.

Therefore, my every action, in raising my son, was to prepare him for that eventual day, when he would stand, as a man, on his own two feet!

Education Begins at Home!

As a mother, I’m my son’s first teacher. I can’t leave that responsibility to someone else. If my son is lacking in social skills, then that’s a reflection on me; for the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!

My job is to nurture and cultivate my son, to take his place in society, and the world, as one who is responsible and productive.

Raising black boys to responsible men takes strong mothers, who are committed and dedicated to raising men. When we, as mothers, fail in our commitment, then our sons lose.

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